Profound Lore has become known over the years as a go-to label for some of the best and most extreme black and death metal bands. But with the release of Vaura‘s The Missing last year, the label opened up another avenue of exploration. Somewhat in that vein comes Psalm Zero. The collaboration between Castevet‘s Andrew Hock and Charlie Looker (ex-Extra Life) makes their full-length debut with The Drain.
Hock handles guitar, drum programming and his voice while Looker supplies clean vocals, bass, programming and synths. Together they make a haunting hybrid of darkwave and industrial metal.
One can get a sense of The Drain’s tone from the cover art. It’s obviously a drain but it also looks like an eye. Combine the two and it feels like looking beyond the filth and grime of life to the beauty that would result if we washed it all away.
Musically Hock and Looker rely heavily on the synths to create a somewhat futuristic and dystopian aura. Melody also plays a large role, holding the listener above the ground. It’s as if you’re floating through a dream or a vision. You can feel and experience all that is happening but are powerless to affect it.
The melodies, especially Looker’s vocals, are calm and soothing, gently embracing the listener. When Psalm Zero do get more aggressive it still feels safe. The balance between the conflicting notions of aggression and passivity is what makes The Drain so attractive. Looker and Hock share the vocal duties quite well. Their different voices shift the mood of the track to the same degree, possibly even more so than the shifts that occur musically.
While the melody may provide a measure of safety, a sense of paranoia or anticipation also runs through the album. They do an excellent job of exploring the dark corners, yet continue to create shadows to obscure potential threats and keep the listener looking over their shoulder.
“Chaos Body” subjects the listener to a vocal hammering while the music presses in. The relief that comes as it dissipates under waves of synths is welcome. That leads into “In the Dead.” This track’s easy cadence borders on hypnotic as Looker’s soothing croon further embraces the senses. Multiple aspects of this song will imbed themselves deep within you.
The overall feel of The Drain is lit with an artificial light, as if it resides below street level or only comes out at night. Yet the light that flows outward is entirely natural.
Hock and Looker have molded their vision with intrinsic artistry. The captivating and proggy synths are spotted with the menace of edgy, metallic guitars and deceptive basslines. Looker’s lonely clean vocals countered by Hock’s savage bark furthers the duality of ugliness and beauty. Psalm Zero sound unique and The Drain appeals to the sensitivity residing beneath the hardened shell of metal. This writer was pleasantly surprised by how mesmerizing the album is and how mind and eye-opening Psalm Zero are. You need to check this out.
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